Big Sky Roundup

Bill to broaden places firearms can be carried advances

By: - January 11, 2021 6:35 pm

A bill that aims to broaden the places people can legally carry firearms — and strike down the Montana Board of Regents’ authority to regulate guns on college campuses — advanced Monday on party lines.

The House Judiciary Committed voted 12-7 to move House Bill 102 forward. The bill is proposed by Rep. Seth Berglee, a Joliet Republican.

In a speech that committee chairman and Billings Republican Barry Usher characterized as lengthy, Rep. Ed Stafman asked legislators to amend the bill to ensure the Board of Regents its retain constitutional responsibility to regulate firearms on college campuses. The Bozeman Democrat who lives near Montana State University said parents expect higher education officials to keep their children safe.

The committee voted 12-7 against that amendment, also on party lines. Pointing to the U.S. Constitution and the oath lawmakers take to uphold it, Rep. Derek Skees pushed back against the argument the Board of Regents should have the power to make decisions about the right to bear arms on Montana campuses.

“My U.S. Constitution on the Second Amendment says, ‘shall not be infringed,’” said Skees, a Kalispell Republican. “It doesn’t say, ‘Oh, if the Board of Regents disagrees, then we can infringe this.’”

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Keila Szpaller
Keila Szpaller

Keila Szpaller is deputy editor of the Daily Montanan and covers education. Before joining States Newsroom Montana, she served as city editor of the Missoulian, the largest news outlet in western Montana.